The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is now better able to help the Department of Education (DepEd) with donated confiscated logs in providing school furniture to more than 43,000 public schools as the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (PAGCOR) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) committed their expertise and resources to the effort.

DENR Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje, together with DepEd Secretary Armin Luistro today (March 22) signed an agreement with PAGCOR Chief Executive Officer and Chairman Cristino Naguiat, Jr. and TESDA Director General Joel Villanueva that lays down the parameters whithin which the four national agencies can harness their respective areas of expertise towards the task of jointly overseeing the “conversion of confiscated logs and lumber, as well as legally-sourced forest products into school furnitures.”

“Once again, the Aquino administration has taken another big leap towards sound governance of government resources with this undertaking where the strength of various government agencies are brought into a synergy to address a particular need,” Paje said, noting that the recently issued Executive Order No. 26 which sets off the National Greening Program (NGP) operates on the same principle.

Paje said PAGCOR funds will cover the full cycle of the project since, citing terms in the agreement, “the agency will fund conversion of confiscated logs starting from hauling, fabrication into school furniture and delivery of finished products to respective DepEd schools.”

As of 2009, DepEd records show that it has under its watch some 37,800 public elementary schools with 12.8 million school children, and 5,677 high schools with 5.5 million students nationwide.

“Under this project, we are practically putting into wise use illegally-harvested timber into a benevolent purpose which over 18 million public school pupils in elementary and high school can benefit from,” Paje said.

For its part, TESDA will assume the pivotal role of providing manpower skill trainings and instrumentation of TESDA facilties to assure competent workers will staffed the school furniture facilities. It will also provide scholarship assistance to workers taking part in skills’ development program dubbed “School Furniture Production Technology.”

DepEd will provide the detailed design, specifications, volume and other requirements needed for the fabrication of school furniture.

A total of 1.28 million board feet of confiscated forest products has earlier been donated by the DENR to DepEd . So far, a total of 5,155 armchairs have been produced from the donated wood products, including 124 school desks , 37 tables , 46 cabinets and some 72 school buildings repaired using DENR-donated timber.

Paje bared that another 4.97 million board feet of confiscated forest products from August 2010 to the present, valued at P57 million, can now be made available for the undertaking.